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The Meq Paperback – 7 May 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Paperback, 7 May 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; New edition edition (7 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330493159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330493154
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,900,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Meq, subtitled "A Lyric Fantasy" is the first novel from American country-rock musician Steve Cash. The flavour is refreshingly unusual, with a secret race of childlike immortals--the Meq--groping after a lost heritage while decade after decade of human history ticks by.

The narrative of Zianno Zezen begins in 1881 America on his 12th birthday. It's the first of many 12th birthdays, since Meq age no further until they find love and consciously choose to go on through puberty. Z's parents, who made that choice, are soon killed in a tragic accident, leaving the boy with hints of Basque "but more than just Basque" descent, and a cryptic Meq contact name.

Befriended by a travelling Jewish entrepreneur and sort-of-adopted by a St Louis boarding-house keeper who moves into the more profitable trade of brothel madam, Z finds life full of violence, exotic colour and elusive magic. He dreams strange dreams and carries a talisman he doesn't understand. He meets other eternal 12-year-olds living among the dangerous "Giza" (mortal humans), surviving through special talents and centuries or sometimes millennia of experience.

Long and almost dreamlike searches recur. Through 12 years at sea, Z seeks an ancient fellow-Meq nicknamed Sailor. In New Orleans, with a friend, he tracks a Meq who has gone bad and wreaked atrocities on Z's adoptive family. Later hunting covers huge tracts of China, and then--for nine years more, in Tuareg disguise--the North African desert. "Do not think ahead, the Sahara will not allow it." In the background, the First World War is now being fought, and it's over before Z reaches a temporary stopping place.

All this makes for a remarkably charming and compelling read, with history and fantasy twining together--there are glimpses of Jesse James, Oscar Wilde, Scott Joplin and the young TS Eliot. The childlike immortals' leisurely attitude to time is imagined with some power. But as the 20th century wears on, they may be dying out...

Many mysteries remain, a hissable villain is still at large, and sequels to The Meq will follow. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Steve Cash's impressive debut crosses understated fantasy with an elegant not-quite-coming-of-age story' Guardian

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The whole concept (the meq, and others who know them) the history and the writing. Mainly the writing. It is so well written, the chapter heading especially. It is good to have such an interllectual novel. In fantasy they are few and far between.
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Format: Paperback
The book jacket describes The Meq as fantasy, but this is definitely not your usual fantasy novel, with not a single sword, dragon, orc or vampire in sight. Some of it concerns Zianno's awakening self-awareness (I was going to write "growing up" but this of course doesn't happen) in the rough-and-tumble environment of St Louis in the 1880s. The rest of the novel is taken up with various quests which take Zianno and the others on lengthy rambling journeys across the world.
As the story progresses, Zianno and the other Meq characters are revealed by their thoughts and actions to be not quite human. Their lifespans stretch across many centuries, so they can afford to think long-term, also the actions of ancient enemies such as the Phoenicians are still fresh in their collective mind. However, they also curiously inconsistent, one minute acting with great urgency as they attempt unsuccessfully to track down the psychotic killer Fleur du Mal, the next embarking on a long dreamlike trek that may take years and not accomplish very much. Zianno and a companion start a search that takes them all over north Africa, and at one point he suddenly realises that six years have passed with no result!
The characters of the Meq are strangely insubstantial, and I would find it difficult to describe the personal attributes of Zianno, Sailor and the others. They tend to drift in and out of the story, and at times I lost track of who was present and who was missing. The Giza (human) characters, such as Solomon the Jewish trader, seemed to be much more vivid, on the whole. Occasionally historical figures such as Scott Joplin or T.S. Eliot appear in the narrative, but generally the Meq are caught up in their own quests and crises, and do not actively involve themselves much in the wider human realm.
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Format: Paperback
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in novels which combine a historical context with a fantastical perspective,and which peels away the surface layers of everyday life to reveal what lies out of sight, a la Machen, Garner, etc. This is not a straightforward "fantasy" novel, there are no swords, and little magic. Steve Cash has developed an interesting concept in the race that he calls The Meq, and there are great possibilities for the series to run and run, especially if he keeps up this standard of writing - he writes VERY well, with confidence and aplomb, and a keen historical sense. A remarkable first novel. Read it soon, before word gets around! When will volume II appear?
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